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Religion and Human Fulfilment [Paperback]

Keith Ward
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

29 Aug 2008
Religion and Human Fulfilment" is a short, accessible reflection on a series of ethical problems in the light of what the world's major faith traditions have to say about them. Keith Ward sets out that morality is an autonomous entity knowable to all human beings and then explores the true nature of morality. The world religions agree on moral goodness as the ultimate goal for humans strive for. But what other beliefs about morality do they share. The author proceeds to trace the consequences of religious views on morality by considering specific moral problems such as violence, human genetic modification and ethical concerns around the beginning and ending of human life as well as questions about secular and religious law. Chapters:1 The God, Gene, Religion and Altruism 2. Islam and Jihad 3. Interference with Nature 4. Christianity and Gender 5. Buddhism and Questions of Life and Death 6. Religious Law and Human Freedom.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: SCM Press (29 Aug 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0334041635
  • ISBN-13: 978-0334041634
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,179,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

The Revd Professor Keith Ward is one of the foremost commentators on Christian belief and doctrine in the context of modern science and the world faith traditions. He is Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the British Academy.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is the Good Life Possible 13 Jun 2009
By the late nineteenth century, as Friedrich Nietzsche disobligingly pointed out, most educated people in the West had ceased to believe in God. They had been won over to what they took to be a scientific view of the world. All the same, the traditional morality based on Christian and Judaic religion continued in full flight. Nietzsche protested that this was inauthentic and indefensible. You no longer believe in the foundations of your own value-system: if there is no God, then your morality cannot come from a transcendent source. Or - as Ivan Karamazov argued - if there is no God, everything is permitted.

For more than a century, the question posed by Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky has troubled philosophers and theologians. They have been aware that the relationship between religion and morality is close, but fraught with ambiguity. There are those who regard religion as being morally reactionary and vicious, opposing progress in the name of archaic divine laws. And then there are others who would uphold religion as an important defence of human value, moral dignity and objective moral standards.

Professor Keith Ward is one of the foremost commentators on Christian belief and doctrine in the context of modern science and the world faith traditions. He is Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford, the successor to Rowan Williams no less, and is to be taken very seriously. He is one of our foremost commentators on religious belief in the context of modern science and world faiths. And he comes up to evidence; he is easy to read, his argument is good and accessible. I must also pay tribute to SCM press whose presentation and setting is very easy on the eye.
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By Jeremy Bevan TOP 500 REVIEWER
This is a typically thoughtful and careful examination of the relationship between religion and morality from the former Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford. Effectively, Ward is seeking to answer the charge (made by Dawkins and others) that religion can only be morally reactionary, and opposes moral progress in the name of archaic divine commands. He scrutinises Buddhist attitudes to `sanctity of life' issues, Islam on violence, Christianity in relation to human sexuality, and Judaism's understanding of revelation-based laws, as well as discussing how natural law (tied to no particular religious tradition, though profoundly influencing strands of thought within many of them) interacts with issues of genetic manipulation.

Ward is for the most part very well-informed about both the religious and the scientific traditions with which he engages. However, I thought he was overly optimistic about the potential of genetic manipulation given how poorly we seem to understand the ecosystems within whose framework such manipulations take place, and somewhat cavalier in his approach to non-human species. While acknowledging that morality needs no religious foundation, and agreeing that evolutionary biology can reinforce morally valuable notions like altruism, he nonetheless argues for a position he calls transcendental personalism, in which religion is an important (he would say, the best) bulwark to any rationally-based morality that seeks the development of personal capacities as the highest moral ideal.

His conclusion - that all the traditions he examines can support humane, rationally-based morality - `works', provided one accepts his interesting assumptions that a supremely good God must be a supremely benevolent one (i.e.
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